A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Monday, February 13, 2006

Newsflash: The Government Wastes Money!!!

Oh my goodness! Something new!

AP: Audits Show Millions in Katrina Aid Wasted.

Come on, now! Is it really a surprise that the GOVERNMENT wastes money? The definition of "government" is practically "large body of elected and unelected bureaucrats whose sole purpose is to waste taxpayer dollars."

WASHINGTON - In its rush to provide Katrina disaster aid, the Two reports released by the Government Accountability Office and the Homeland Security Department's office of inspector general detail a series of accounting flaws, fraud or mismanagement in their initial review of how $85 billion in federal aid is being spent.

The two audits found that up to 900,000 of the 2.5 million applicants who received aid under FEMA's emergency cash assistance program — which included the $2,000 debit cards given to evacuees — were based on duplicate or invalid Social Security numbers, or false addresses and names.

Separately, the Justice Department said Monday that federal prosecutors have filed fraud, theft and other charges against 212 people accused of scams related to Gulf Coast hurricanes. Forty people have pleaded guilty so far, the latest report by the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force said. Many defendants were accused of trying to obtain emergency aid, typically a $2,000 debit card, issued to hurricane victims by FEMA and the American Red Cross.

Thousands of additional dollars appear to have been squandered on hotel rooms for evacuees that were paid at retail rather than the contractor's lower estimated cost. They included $438 rooms in New York City and beachfront condominiums in Panama City, Fla., at $375 a night, according to the audits.

The two audits were released by the Senate Homeland Security Committee as the panel wrapped up its investigation into the federal government's preparation and response to the disaster.

"FEMA has a substantial challenge in balancing the need to get the money out quickly to those who are actually in need and sustaining public confidence in disaster programs by taking all possible steps to minimize fraud and abuse," the GAO audit by Gregory Kutz states.

FEMA spokeswoman Nicol Andrews said Monday the audits were still preliminary. The agency is working closely with auditors to make sure money is wisely spent and is committed to helping disaster victims, she said.

Offering the $2,000 emergency aid "was a calculated risk taken in a catastrophic situation where many people were forced from their homes, often without any identification or basic necessities," she said. "It was the right thing to do."

Federal Emergency Management Agency wasted millions of dollars and overpaid for hotel rooms, including $438-a-day lodging in New York City, government investigators said Monday.
This is what happens when the government tries to take over operations and don't require proof positive that someone was affected by something. They just hand money out like sand.

I daresay there isn't an agency in the government that does not waste money, so it would be disengenuous to only accuse FEMA. We need to revamp every system, so we don't waste so much hard-earned money.